President Donald Trump is considering naming former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman as the new director of the FBI, counter to his promises of “draining the swamp.”
Trump interviewed four candidates for the position on Wednesday, among them was Lieberman, who war-hungry Arizona Senator John McCain is gleefully excited over.
“Joe Lieberman has more experience than all of my Dem. colleagues combined. So screw them,” McCain told PBS NewsHour when asked about some Democrats expressing concerns over the former senator. “And you can quote me,” he added.
When asked by reporters if Lieberman was a top candidate for the position, Trump responded that “he is.”
Lieberman ran as Al Gore’s vice presidential candidate in 2000, but endorsed McCain for president in 2008 when he defected to the Republican Party.
During his career, the former Connecticut senator has enjoyed a seemingly very close friendship with both McCain and Hillary Clinton.
I also applaud Sec of State Hillary Clinton, who has served our nation w/such extraordinary skill, integrity & results over the past 4yrs
— Joe Lieberman (@JoeLieberman) December 21, 2012
In the collection of Clinton emails which are searchable on WikiLeaks, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin is seen emailing the former Secretary of State to arrange a meeting between the trio. “Joe lieberman wants to talk to you about his recent trip to iraq and afghanistan with mccain,” Abedin emailed Clinton.
“He wants to come see me w McCain, Graham and Collins about Af’stan. Pls put on list to discuss,” Clinton responded.
It isn’t difficult to see why this trio work together so well — in 2002, Lieberman joined an interventionist group of DC-based neoconservatives called the ‘Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.’ The extremely influential and effective group, which included the hawkish Bill Kristol, was founded with the goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
The mission statement of the group was to “promote regional peace, political freedom, and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations. … The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq will engage in educational and advocacy efforts to mobilize U.S. and international support for policies aimed at ending the aggression of Saddam Hussein and freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny.”
In 2004, Lieberman revived the “Committee on the Present Danger,” a pro-interventionist and very neoconservative group which was originally founded during the Cold War. Their new goal to stifle dissent against the war in Iraq and promote war in Iran.
During his time with the group, Lieberman argued that pulling troops out of Iraq would be “a victory for Iran and Al Qaeda,” in a 2007 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
While the group consistently lobbied to combat Islamic terrorism, their hawkish tendencies also ran counter to much of Trump’s campaign rhetoric and promises about not supporting interventionist policies and focusing on “America first.”
In 2010, Liberman set his sights on WikiLeaks, intimidating Amazon to remove the controversial publisher from their cloud servers. In an announcement about them being removed from the platform Lieberman said, “the decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.” It remains unclear, even to this day, whether or not the organization has broken any laws at all.
“This certainly implicates First Amendment rights to the extent that web hosts may, based on direct or informal pressure, limit the materials the American public has a First Amendment right to access,” senior staff attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation Kevin Bankston told Talking Points Memo at the time.
Lieberman didn’t stop there though, in a move that shocked the press, he also called for the New York Times to be investigated for publishing material from WikiLeaks that helped to form more public criticism of the decision to go to war.
“I certainly believe that WikiLeaks has violated the Espionage Act, but then what about the news organizations — including The Times — that accepted it and distributed it?” Lieberman said in an appearance on Fox News. “To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.”
Joe Lieberman: prosecute New York Times for publishing WikiLeaks' docs https://t.co/ERUIuuM1vc (archive, 2010)
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 18, 2017
Also interviewed at the White House on Wednesday for the now-vacant post were former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, former FBI official Richard McFeely and the current acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Whichever candidate Trump chooses will have to be confirmed by the senate, he has promised that whoever he picks will be “outstanding.”